What's happening? More than two-thirds of the 1,000 most popular iPhone apps targeted towards children collect and send their personal information out to the advertising industry, finds a new study by fraud and compliance software company Pixalate, adding that 79% of popular kids apps on Android do the same. Subway Surfer is spying on kids when they are using it, as are Candy Crush Saga, Angry Birds and even education tech apps designed to teach kids painting or aid them with homework. According to Pixalate, these apps are collecting kids’ general geo locations and other identifying information such as app usage behaviour, purchase history, etc. and selling it to companies that track user interests and predict what they might want to buy. By the time a child reaches 13, online advertising firms hold an average of 72 million data points about them, reveals a study by SuperAwesome, a London-based company that helps app developers navigate child-privacy laws. Meanwhile, another study, this one from advocacy group Human Rights Watch, found that 90% of educational tools are collecting data that they then send on to advertising tech companies. Why does this matter? Children’s privacy deserves special attention because kids’ data can be misused in some uniquely harmful ways. Research suggests many children can’t distinguish ads from content, and tracking tech lets marketers micro-target young minds. What did the Pixalate study find? Pixalate said it used software and human reviewers, including teachers, to attempt categorise every single app that might appeal to children. It identified…
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